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UCF co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach David Gibbs played a major role in the Knights’ defensive surge in 2021 and 2022—as his youthful yet talented secondary developed into one of the most productive in the country.
Gibbs works closely with UCF defensive coordinator Addison Williams and those two in 2023 share responsibility for coaching the Knight defensive backs.
UCF played its way into the American Athletic Conference Championship Game in 2022 with dynamic wins over ranked Cincinnati and Tulane teams—with the Knight defense ranking first nationally in red-zone defense much of the fall (fifth to finish the regular season). UCF held seven opponents to 20 or fewer points and allowed 23.6 points per game overall (third in AAC).
Cornerback Davonte Brown and defensive tackle Ricky Barber claimed honorable mention All-America honors for 2022 from Pro Football Network—with Brown also named AAC Cornerback of the Year. Cornerback Corey Thornton received third-team All-AAC recognition from Pro Football Focus for his 2022 play—while defenders Barber, Tre’mon Morris-Brash and Jason Johnson all merited first-team all-conference recognition by vote of AAC coaches (Brown was first team by PFN.).
Johnson led the Knights in tackles in 2022 (9.0 per game, third in AAC)--while safety Koby Perry topped the UCF secondary with 56 tackles and safety Divaad Wilson contributed three interceptions.
As the Knights won six of their final seven games to finish the 2021 season (including a Gasparilla Bowl triumph over Florida), the UCF defense permitted just 11.8 points per game in those six victories. The Knights averaged 8.1 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks in those six games—and finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense (110.73) and 26th in tackles for loss (6.8 per game).
Gibbs and his secondary in 2021 made significant contributions as the Knights improved 97 spots in the NCAA pass efficiency defense ratings from 2020 and also allowed 89.1 fewer passing yards per game in 2021—an improvement of 86 slots in the final NCAA statistics.
Winning postseason honors for 2021 among UCF defensive backs were safety Quadric Bullard (second-team All-AAC by Pro Football Focus and fourth team by Phil Steele), Wilson (second-team All-AAC by vote of league coaches, third team by PFF, fourth team by Phil Steele) and cornerbacks Brown and Thornton (both third-team All-AAC by PFF). Bullard and Wilson ranked second and fourth, respectively, in tackles for the Knights in 2021.
Gibbs is a 29-year veteran of the coaching industry, including 13 seasons as a defensive coordinator in the college ranks and nine seasons as a defensive backs coach for three different National Football League teams. He was named co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach on Gus Malzahn’s UCF football coaching staff on Feb. 18, 2021. He is in his third season at UCF in 2023.
Gibbs was the secondary coach at Missouri in 2019 and 2020--after spending four seasons as defensive coordinator (2015-18) at Texas Tech, where his defenses became known as some of the top turnover-creating units in the country.
Mizzou's defense in 2019 allowed the fewest first downs (195) of any Football Bowl Subdivision program while also ranking sixth nationally in pass defense (179.3 yards per game) under Gibbs. The Tigers were ninth in pass efficiency defense, 14th in total defense (312.0) and 16th in scoring defense (19.4).
In 2017, Texas Tech led the Big 12 Conference and ranked sixth nationally with 29 forced turnovers, including four defensive scores, most by a Texas Tech defense since 2001. From 2013-17, Gibbs' defenses at Tech and Houston forced a combined 140 turnovers, tied for most in the nation among any defensive coordinator during that five-year span.
Gibbs previously served as defensive coordinator at Minnesota (1997-2000), Auburn (2005) and Houston (2013-14) and also took over as interim head coach for the Cougars' appearance in the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl. In that game, Gibbs' team posted the biggest fourth-quarter comeback win in bowl-game history, overcoming a 31-6 deficit with just 11 minutes remaining to notch a thrilling 35-34 victory over Pittsburgh.
In his first season at the helm of the Red Raider defense in 2015, Gibbs preached the importance of forcing turnovers and the effects showed as Tech went from a minus-13 turnover margin in 2014 to plus-two in 2015. The Red Raiders picked off 15 passes and recovered 10 fumbles in 2015, a year after forcing just 15 turnovers altogether.
Gibbs quickly changed the defensive culture at Houston shortly after his arrival in 2013. The Cougars ranked as the third-most improved scoring defense nationally and ranked 20th in the country after allowing 21.8 points per game, a significant improvement from the 36 points per game Houston surrendered in 2012.
The 2013 Houston defense led the nation with 43 turnovers forced to pace the Cougars to a best-in-the-nation plus-25 turnover margin. Trevon Stewart led the nation and set a Houston record with six fumble recoveries, while Adrian McDonald led the AAC with six interceptions.
The dramatic defensive overhaul under Gibbs continued in 2014 as Houston finished the regular season ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense at 19.5 points per game and 19th nationally in total defense at 334.6 yards per game. The Houston defense was fifth nationally with 30 takeaways, including 19 interceptions (sixth nationally).
Prior to Houston, Gibbs' last collegiate coaching stop was in 2005 when he served as defensive coordinator at Auburn. The Tiger defense ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 15.5 points per game that season, while ranking 11th in sacks (39) and 16th in third-down defense.
On the professional level, Gibbs spent a combined nine seasons in Denver, Kansas City and Houston as a defensive backs coach. Teams sporting Gibbs on staff finished in the top 12 of total defense five times and advanced to the NFL Playoffs on three occasions. Three players who worked under Gibbs earned NFL Pro Bowl selections--Champ Bailey, John Lynch and Deltha O'Neal.
Prior to joining the professional ranks, Gibbs became the youngest coordinator on the FBS level at the time as the then-29-year-old took over as defensive coordinator at Minnesota in 1997. Gibbs improved a Minnesota defense that had ranked last in the Big Ten in 1996 to one ranked eighth in the nation in pass efficiency defense and scoring defense by 1999.
Under Gibbs' tutelage, Minnesota’s Tyrone Carter won the 1999 Jim Thorpe Award and back-to-back All-America honors in 1998 and 1999. Defensive end Lamanzer Williams earned All-America honors in 1997 as Gibbs' defense produced an All-American in three straight seasons for the first time at Minnesota since 1961-63.
Gibbs earned his first full-time coaching position in 1995 at Kansas, where he coached the program's defensive backs. The Jayhawks advanced to just their eighth bowl game in program history in Gibbs' first year when they defeated UCLA in the Aloha Bowl. Gibbs earned his first coaching opportunity with back-to-back two-year stints as a graduate assistant at both Colorado and Oklahoma.
The Auburn, Alabama, native was a four-year letterman at Colorado from 1987-90. He started at defensive back for the 1990 national title-winning Buffalo team and the 11-1 1989 team that finished fourth nationally in the final polls. Gibbs graduated from Colorado in 1990, earning Academic All-Big Eight honors as a senior.
Gibbs and his wife, Debbie, are the parents of two children--a son, Hudson, and a daughter, Charlie Grace.
|2001-04||Denver Broncos (NFL)||Defensive Backs|
|2006-08||Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)||Defensive Backs|
|2009-10||Houston Texans (NFL)||Defensive Backs|
|2012||Virginia Destroyers (UFL)||Defensive Backs|
|2014||Houston||Interim Head Coach (Armed Forces Bowl)|
|2015-18||Texas Tech||Defensive Coordinator|
|2021-pres.||UCF||Co-Defensive Coordinator, Secondary|